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Aquaculture Research, 1997, 28, 789–796

Comparison of intensive shrimp farming systems in


Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand

H Kongkeo
Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia–Pacific (NACA), Bangkok, Thailand

Correspondence: Dr Hassanai Kongkeo, NACA, PO Box 1040, Kasetsart Post Office, Bangkok 10903, Thailand
(Fax: 1 66 2 561 1727; E-mail: naca@mozart.inet.co.th)

loads, ammonia and other toxic particles released


Abstract
by nearby farms through the incoming water.
The estimated production of cultured shrimps for Despite serious crop failures in other countries
1995 in Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and within the past few years, the annual shrimp
Thailand was 20 000, 40 000, 80 000 and 220 000 production in Thailand still remains high because
tonnes, respectively. Intensive shrimp ponds in the farmers have readily adopted new, environmentally
Philippines (71%) and Indonesia (63%), which are friendly and locally suitable, water exchange systems
developed in the tidal and mangrove areas, cannot such as less water exchange, and closed, full-strength
be properly treated by complete drying, owing to seawater and freshwater systems, overcoming heavy
seepage from supply and drainage, nor by removal viral and disease infections. Approximately 30% of
of the fouled layer by heavy machines such as shrimp production in Thailand comes from the
bulldozers. Intensive farms in Thailand and Taiwan freshwater areas, sometimes 200 km from the sea.
are owned by small-scale operators operating 2–3 Half of the Philippine farmers rely on imported feeds;
ponds simultaneously, each ranging from 0.16 to this has caused high shrimp mortality owing to
1.0 ha, which is the optimal size for efficient farm toxins produced from expired feeds kept in humid
management and lower overhead and investment conditions.
costs compared with larger farms such as those
found in Indonesia and the Philippines. In Taiwan,
90% of pond water supply is mixed open sea water
with underground fresh water. Pond salinity, which Introduction
is kept constant at 10–15‰, causes Taiwanese Penaeus monodon Fabricius is the common species
farmers to encounter an array of problems which for intensive culture in Taiwan, Philippines,
include high cost of underground water pumping, Indonesia and Thailand, except the cold-tolerant
land subsidence, salinization, more pathogens and species, P. japonicus Bate, which is reared only in
rapidly fouled bottom. Water loss by seepage in Taiwan. It was estimated that in 1995, the
Thailand is minimal (average 23 cm in the final production of cultured shrimp in these four countries
month), compared with Indonesia and the was 20 000, 40 000, 80 000 and 220 000 t
Philippines, because pond dikes are tightly (tonnes, ‘metric tons’), respectively (Table 1). The
compacted by heavy machines and high clay content shrimp industry in Asia is facing serious disease
(86%). Circular water movement in ponds in problems linked to environmental deterioration,
Thailand, facilitated by heavy aeration (13.3 hp resulting in severe losses to the farmers. In China,
ha–1), aids in the settling of waste in pond centres shrimp production sharply dropped by nearly
for easy removal. Indonesia and the Philippines still 120 000 t in 1993 while production in Taiwan
maintain high water exchange systems (335 cm declined gradually from the peak of 88 000 t in
and 470 cm in the final month, respectively) which 1987 to 12 000 t in 1993. From 1993 to 1995,
introduce viruses, other pathogens, excess organic production in Indonesia and Philippines decreased

© 1997 Blackwell Science Ltd. 789


Comparison of intensive shrimp farming systems H Kongkeo Aquaculture Research, 1997, 28, 789–796

Table 1 Production trend of cultured shrimp (from FAO supply canals, or by efficient removal of the fouled
1995; Rosenberry 1994, 1995; in tonnes) layer by heavy machines. To prevent conflicts with
rice farmers, the ponds must be designed to have
Year Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand proper drainage system without interfering with
freshwater canals; and pond embankments should
1985 36 331 29 933 48 368 15 840 be well compacted to prevent seepage of saline water
1990 105 906 53 989 17 647 119 510 into rice paddies.
1991 136 396 51 434 23 252 162 051 About 29%, 37%, 54% and 61% of intensive
1992 141 586 78 397 17 358 184 884
shrimp ponds in Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan and
1993 154 000 95 816 12 337 216 600
1994 100 000 30 000 25 000 225 000 Thailand, respectively, are in supratidal areas
1995 80 000 40 000 20 000 220 000 (Table 4).
In fact, no big shrimp farms with high investment
and large overheads have been able to survive,
owing to insufficient care in farm management
(Kongkeo 1989). Small owner-managed grow-out
by 48% and 58%, respectively. Only Thailand has
ponds are more efficient than large-scale farms
had stable production during 1993–1995 at
run by workers owing to the sense of belonging.
™ 220 000 t. It was notable that shared water
However, large-scale operators are always required
supplies as a source of problems was recognized by
for pioneering research work, feasibility studies, and
farmers in several countries including Philippines,
to serve as prototypes during the initial stages of
Taiwan and Thailand. To overcome the widespread
development in each country. The low-investment
viral infection, Thai farmers quickly adapted various
small farms can stop their operation for a while, or
water management systems and pond bottom
can reduce stocking density without too much
removal.
financial effect, if shrimp prices are not good or if
In all, 10%, 15%, 50% and 85% of shrimp farms
pollution and disease problems occur. The income
in Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand are
from this type of shrimp farming provides
intensive (Table 2). Most of the information presented
considerable socio-economic benefits to those small-
in this paper is based on a survey conducted by the
scale farmers in coastal regions, instead of investors.
NACA Regional Study and Workshop on
For example, ™ 80% of intensive farms in Thailand
Aquaculture Sustainability and the Environment,
are owned by small-scale operators with 2–3 ponds,
which was supported by the Asian Development
each ranging in size from 0.16 to 1.0 ha. The
Bank (ADB) under its regional technical assistance
average size of intensive farms in Thailand, Taiwan,
programme (Table 3).
Indonesia and Philippines are 2.7, 3.2, 7.5 and
12.7 ha, respectively (Table 4). For similar reasons,
90% of the hatcheries in Indonesia, and 85% in
Land use and farm size
Thailand, are small-scale and have been found to
In general, intensive shrimp culture requires be successful and sustainable (Table 2).
minimal area, compared with other culture systems,
and is better practised in the non-acid and non-
peaty soil of rice paddies than in mangrove areas,
Pond preparation
thus lessening the destruction of mangrove.
Although land costs for supratidal areas (i.e. above Pond preparation is the most important operation
the height of the highest tide) of rice fields are in intensive shrimp farming in Thailand. This
higher, the costs of construction are much lower eliminates toxic gases, such as ammonia, hydrogen
because heavy machines can be used efficiently. sulphide and methane, as well as pathogens in the
These legal supratidal areas can be used as collateral pond bottom accumulated from the previous crop.
for bank loans for initial investment and operation. If possible, after every crop, the fouled layer of the
When shrimp are cultured in mangrove areas where pond bottom should be scraped off by bulldozer and
water and soil contain high organic loads, disease dried on the pond dikes or removed by excavator to
problems always occur. Ponds developed in dry in a reserved area nearby (Kongkeo 1989). If
supratidal areas can be properly treated by complete the use of heavy machines is not practical in the
dry-out, without interference from seepage from rainy season, the fouled substrate can be removed

790 © 1997 Blackwell Science Ltd, Aquaculture Research, 28, 789–796


Aquaculture Research, 1997, 28, 789–796 Comparison of intensive shrimp farming systems H Kongkeo

Table 2 Shrimp farming in Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand in 1994 (from Rosenberry 1994)

Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand

Production (t) 100 000 30 000 25 000 225 000


Farming area (ha) 300 000 50 000 7000 80 000
Production (kg ha–1) 333 600 3571 2813
No. of hatcheries 200 400 200 2000
% small 90 30 20 85
% medium 5 50 80 10
% large 5 20 0 5
No. of farms 6000 1000 2000 20 000
% extensive 80 35 0 5
% semi-intensive 10 50 50 10
% intensive 10 15 50 85

Table 3 Survey sample for intensive shrimp ponds (from ADB/NACA 1997)

Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand

No. of farms surveyed 156 39 69 440


Pond area (ha) 768 346 178 690
Average farm size (ha) 5 9 3 2
Sampling density (%)1 1.6 5.0 13.2 2.4

1Estimated proportion of total number of farms within each country sampled during the survey.

Table 4 Current land use of intensive shrimp farms (from ADB/NACA 1997)

Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand

Total area (ha) 20 000 6940 1407 47 755

Total production in 1994 (t) 85 004 20 070 4000 220 398

Storage ponds per farm (ha) 0.9 1.0 0.4 0.5


Nursery ponds per farm (ha) 0 0 0.1 0
Production ponds per farm (ha) 4.9 8.9 2.6 1.6
Total farm area (ha) 7.5 12.7 3.2 2.7

Pond location (%)


Mangrove areas 26.6 50.0 12.3 20.8
Other intertidal areas 36.4 20.8 34.1 18.0
Supratidal areas 37.0 29.2 53.6 61.2

in suspension by high-pressure hoses and then method which also reduces the organic load
pumped to a sludge settlement pond to avoid discharged to the environment.
contaminating the water supply. After the grow-out Most shrimp ponds developed in the Philippines
pond has been dried for one month to eliminate the and Indonesia were in intertidal areas where proper
left-over toxic gases, lime should be applied before pond bottom treatment by using a bulldozer or
stocking. With this technique for waste removal, complete drying is not efficient owing to seepage.
ponds can be operated with the low water exchange Therefore turning subsoil by tilling is a common

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Comparison of intensive shrimp farming systems H Kongkeo Aquaculture Research, 1997, 28, 789–796

Table 5 Soil type of farm area (from ADB/NACA 1997) Table 6 Chemicals commonly used in pond preparation
(in kg ha–1 crop–1; from ADB/NACA 1997)
Soil type (%) Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand
Chemical Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand
Sandy 44 37 16 3
Clay and loam 52 60 50 86 Liming 2122 7381 4151 12 927
Other 4 3 34 11 Teaseed 75 153 726 555
Rotenone 7 0 NAa 50
Inorganic fertilizer 96 49 603 145
Organic fertilizer 209 101 99 115

aNA, not applicable.


practice in Indonesia (90%) and Philippines (79%).
Pond bottoms in Taiwan and Indonesia cannot be
removed by heavy machines after every crop because
this will make the ponds increasingly deep. In
the aquifer becomes a vacuum owing to heavy
Taiwan, where the incoming water is clear, the
pumping. This induces the penetration of sea water,
siltation from pond water is not enough to
resulting in the salinization of groundwater, which
compensate for the removed substrate. It is too
affects other users such as industries and villagers.
costly to import soil to replace the removed layer.
The cost of drilling wells and pumping groundwater
In case of pond bottoms with imported sand in
is usually high, particularly in some areas where
Taiwan and those with natural sand in Indonesia
artesian wells are at least 100 m deep. The
(Table 5), the removal of the fouled layer needs to
government charges for groundwater in some
be even deeper than for those with a clay bottom
countries in order to prevent land subsidence and to
because pond wastes are deposited in the deep
preserve freshwater sources. When the groundwater
porous space of a sandy bottom.
has a higher salt concentration, farmers are obliged
After mechanical pond treatment, various
to draw a larger volume to obtain the desired salinity
common chemicals, including lime, tea seed cake
in the ponds, thus incurring more pumping costs.
and fertilizer, are generally applied in each country.
Pond conditions deteriorate faster because the
Although the fouled layer of the pond bottoms has
bacteria that attack the organic matter on the
been commonly removed, Thai farmers still prefer
bottom proliferate rapidly, thus the leftover feed is
to apply more lime than is usual in other
decomposed faster. When pond bottoms become
countries (Table 6).
fouled prematurely, shrimp stress always occurs and
is followed by heavy mortality through viral
infection.
Water supply and management
To maintain good water quality, which is one of
Water supplies for intensive shrimp farms differ from the key factors for sustainable shrimp culture,
country to country. There is a high prevalence of circular water movement in Thai shrimp ponds is
estuarine/creek water supplies in the Philippines facilitated by heavy aeration to concentrate all the
and Thailand, while the source of water supplies in waste at the centres of the ponds rather than
Indonesia and Taiwan is confined to water direct remaining spread throughout the pond bottom.
from the sea (Table 7). Thailand is the only country Blooming of phytoplankton is also controlled by
to have developed intensive ponds in freshwater aeration. The locally designed, long-shaft paddle
areas. wheels (10–20 wheels) are most efficient and have
In Taiwan, 90% of water supplies (Table 7) consist a lower power consumption (Table 8). Water loss
of open sea water mixed with underground fresh by seepage in Thailand is minimal, compared with
water, keeping salinity constant at 10–15‰. that in Indonesia and Philippines (Table 8), because
However, Taiwanese farmers have encountered an high-clay-content pond dikes and bottoms are well
array of problems including the high cost of packed by heavy machinery.
underground water pumping, land subsidence and It is now believed that the introduction of new
salinization, more pathogens and rapidly fouled water to ponds will cause high mortality owing to
bottom. When a large volume of underground water the sudden change in water quality (chemical,
is used for dilution, the land gradually sinks and biological and physical). Lower water exchange

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Aquaculture Research, 1997, 28, 789–796 Comparison of intensive shrimp farming systems H Kongkeo

Table 7 Water supplies (from ADB/NACA 1997)

Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand

Source of supply (%)


Creek/estuary 36 51 19 46
Direct from sea 52 26 74 18
Other sources 12 23 7 36

Mixed with underground 46 10 90 4


fresh watera

Average salinity (‰)


Wet season 16 20 28 14
Dry season 30 33 33 29

aSee text.

Table 8 Water management and aeration (from ADB/NACA 1997)

Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand

Water added in final month (cm) 335 470 28 92


Seepage and evaporation losses in final month (cm) 103 58 NAa 23

Discharge of effluent to canals (%) 83 72 25 39

Average no. of aerators per ha 1.6 2.0 4.0 6.7


Average power of aerators (hp ha–1) 7.7 1.2 12.0 13.3

Measure salinity (%) 99 100 86 87


Measure oxygen (%) 42 90 74 30
Monitor water colour and turbidity (%) 90 97 75 83

aNA, not applicable.

also reduces the introduction of viruses and other management systems which have been proved
pathogens, ammonia and other toxic particles which successful, as follows.
are released by nearby farms, through the incoming
water. If the high water exchange system is still
maintained, organic load in brackish water sources
Closed system
will settle in the grow-out pond, thus increasing the
level of deterioration of the pond bottom. Although If ponds are located in unavoidably polluted or
the quality of the existing pond water is poor when disease-spread areas, particularly along rivers and
there is less water exchange, shrimp can gradually canals, farmers have developed a closed culture
adapt to this condition. Therefore most intensive system which does not require water exchange from
farmers in Thailand now prefer to reduce their water external water sources for the duration of the whole
intake from external sources as much as possible; growing period. This system must have reservoirs
on average, they add only 92 cm of water in the or water treatment ponds attached to the grow-out
final month of rearing (Table 8). This low water ponds. Clean water during the day with the highest
exchange system has also been used to expand tide during spring tide in the lunar cycle is introduced
shrimp farms into areas with little access to sea only once – at the start of culture cycle – into the
water. grow-out ponds and the reservoir. Water from the
Apart from this low water exchange method, Thai reservoir is gradually added to fill the grow-out
farmers have developed various locally specific water ponds until there is no water left in the reservoir.

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Comparison of intensive shrimp farming systems H Kongkeo Aquaculture Research, 1997, 28, 789–796

Table 9 Feeding activities (from ADB/NACA 1996)

Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand

Formulated diets used (%) 97 90 100 100


Imported feed (%) 21 51 25 4

Feed conversion ratio, FCR 1.47 2.08 1.38 1.67


Feed cost (US$ kg–1) 1.06 1.25 1.20 1.20
Feed cost as proportion of sales (%) 24 37 14 29

Feeding tray checking (%) 98 92 100 100


Regular FCR calculation (%) 94 97 25 59

Later, waste water from the grow-out pond is sometimes 200 km from the sea. If the soil is still
gradually pumped back to this reservoir, which now salty, the salinity of stocked fresh water at a depth
serves as a sedimentation or treatment pond. Thus of 0.30 m in grow-out ponds will rise to about
organic loads and silt settle in this treatment pond, 5‰ within 1–2 weeks. Otherwise, pathogen-free
while living organisms such as phytoplankton and hypersaline water (150–200‰) from salt farms
zooplankton are consumed by introduced fish and should be transported by truck and subsequently
bivalves, e.g. tilapia, mullets, milkfish, green mussels diluted to 5‰ in the grow-out ponds. After seed
or oysters, to prevent overblooming of stocking, fresh water is gradually added to fill the
phytoplankton and to act as a biofilter, in the next pond to the desired level and to compensate for
treatment pond. The clear surface water is then evaporation. Because of a nearly fivefold dilution
allowed to overflow into the supply canal, where during the grow-out period and the absorption of
heavy aeration is applied so as to eliminate toxic NaCl by the bottom soil, the final salinity will become
gases. This recycled water is then pumped back into nearly 0‰, which will not be harmful to the
the grow-out pond. The wastewater is pumped out surrounding environment. The stocking density
from the grow-out pond to the treatment pond should be reduced to 20 m–2 so that shrimp can
beginning from the second and third months at the grow up to the size of 20–25 g within 3 months.
rate of 20% every 3 days and increased to 30% in Fresh water will stunt the shrimp only after 100
the final month. However, the exchange regime also days of culture period. The smaller shrimp yielded
depends on the dissolved ammonia concentration in by this system will force the farmers not to pollute
the grow-out pond, which should not exceed 0.1 their ponds. Another advantage of this technique is
ppm. Up to harvesting time, pond salinity, which that some pathogens of P. monodon, such as yellow
gradually increases through evaporation, does not head virus and some baculovirus, hardly occur in
exceed 40‰ because the initial salinity is about
fresh water. However, the long-term impact on the
10–15‰. In an emergency, when new water is
environment needs more careful study.
required for dilution of pond water, if the pond
salinity rises above 40‰, the incoming water must
be chlorinated separately in a spare pond. In case
many grow-out ponds use the same water treatment Culture in full-strength sea water
ponds, wastewater from an infected pond should
not be pumped to this common facility. All water The advantage of open-sea water is the lower
released to rivers/canals is always treated and contamination by pathogens owing to the sea’s good
disinfected by 300 kg ha–1 chlorine. In some cases water circulation. In the past, shrimp farms along
the water may be used for two production cycles the coast where waste water can be completely
before being replaced. drained out to the open sea, faced a major problem
of stunted shrimp caused by high salinity and clear
water. In fact, high salinity (over 40‰) will affect
Culture in fresh water
shrimp only during the juvenile stage when they
The closed system described above is also useful mainly consume zooplankton, which are not
in freshwater areas deep within the river basins, generally available in high salinity and clear water.

794 © 1997 Blackwell Science Ltd, Aquaculture Research, 28, 789–796


Aquaculture Research, 1997, 28, 789–796 Comparison of intensive shrimp farming systems H Kongkeo

Table 10 Annual financial performance in 1 ha pond (in thousand US$; from ADB/NACA 1997)

Indonesia Philippines Taiwan Thailand

Stocking (postlarvae m–2) 78 38 73 114

Yield (t) 6.06 3.05 2.88 10.49


Price per t 6.50 7.10 12.46 6.94

Shrimp sales 39.4 21.7 35.9 72.8

Labour (% of total costs) 1.22 (5.7) 1.31 (6.3) 0.58 (2.8) 1.98 (4.4)
Feed 8.52 (39.9) 7.99 (38.4) 4.75 (22.6) 21.13 (47.1)
Seed 3.51 (16.4) 3.88 (18.6) 2.51 (11.9) 6.20 (13.8)
Power 2.21 (10.3) 0.87 (4.2) 1.90 (9.1) 3.50 (7.8)
Other 1.09 (5.1) 0.24 (1.1) 1.67 (8.0) 2.77 (6.2)
Overheads 0.79 (3.7) 0.01 (0.1) 1.97 (9.4) 3.86 (8.6)
Depreciation 4.03 (18.9) 6.52 (31.3) 7.61 (36.2) 5.43 (12.1)
Total costs 21.37 20.82 20.99 44.87

Net margin 18.03 0.88 14.91 27.93

After 45 days in the grow-out ponds, when shrimp always follows immediately. The basic treatment
are already reliant on artificial diets, their growth and preventive measure against diseases is therefore
is no longer affected by high-salinity water. The to maintain good water quality and pond bottom
salinity of newly stocked sea water (30–33‰) in a condition.
grow-out pond during the first one-and-a-half In fact, absolute mortality of shrimp infected by
months is still good enough for plankton growth if yellow head baculovirus occurs within the first
fertilizer is heavily applied with minimal water month of stocking when the costs of production,
exchange. Bacterial infection and pond bottom particularly feed and water management, are still
deterioration caused by overblooming of very low. Farmers are able to re-stock with little
phytoplankton also hardly occur under such high- delay or loss. If the pond bottom is well cleaned by
salinity conditions. removal of fouled soil before stocking, mortality from
this disease hardly occurs, even though pond water
is contaminated by this virus. This has been shown
Feed types and feed management by the sharp increase in shrimp production in
Thailand, up to 225 000 and 250 000 t in 1993
In the Philippines, 51% of shrimp farms use imported
and 1994, respectively, during the period when
feeds (Table 9), thus risking high shrimp mortality
this disease was spreading among poorly managed
owing to the aflatoxins produced in expired feeds
ponds. As with other pathogens, it is believed that
kept in humid conditions.
shrimp are susceptible to this virus when they
become stressed by direct contact with toxic gases at
the bottom of poorly prepared ponds. The mortality
Shrimp health management
occurs towards the end of the first month when
In general, most shrimp mortality is caused by shrimp begin to graze for food at the pond bottom.
excessively fouled pond bottoms and poor water Shrimp farmers in many countries are now facing
quality, which always produces several toxic gases. a serious and widespread occurrence of red body
Although the dissolved toxic substances in ponds and white spot disease caused by SEMBV (systemic
do not reach levels lethal to shrimp, they may harm ectodermal and mesodermal baculovirus). In
shrimp by direct contact with these gases when Thailand, a heavy outbreak of SEMBV spread
shrimp are searching for food at the pond bottom. throughout the country in early 1996. This may
These gases also cause stress and lower disease have been due to the unusually heavy and long
resistance in shrimp. Thus infection by bacteria, rainy season in 1995, which prevented the removal
viruses and protozoans existing in the pond water, of most fouled pond bottoms by bulldozer or even

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Comparison of intensive shrimp farming systems H Kongkeo Aquaculture Research, 1997, 28, 789–796

complete sun drying. Therefore shrimp became showed little variation in most countries, except in
stressed by poor environmental conditions and easily the Philippines (18.6%) where transportation costs
infected by SEMBV which already existed in the were usually high. Although Thailand used a lot of
pond water. When this virus had been spread over aerators per pond, the power cost (7.8%) was no
the farming areas, the natural water sources became higher than in other countries because the low
heavily contaminated through the farm effluent. water exchange system was applied. Depreciation
However, this viral disease can be prevented by the in the Philippines and Taiwan was high (31.3% and
following steps: 36.2%, respectively) because of the high costs of
• if SEMBV infection has already occurred, harvest construction and farm equipment. Shrimp farming
all shrimp and burn dead shrimp; in Thailand produced the best net margin (US$
• treat pond water with 30 ppm sodium 27 930 ha–1) while Philippines made only US$
hypochloride before release to any natural water 880 ha–1.
source;
• completely dry the pond;
Acknowledgments
• mechanically remove the fouled bottom;
• disinfect the pond bottom and eliminate virus The author would like to express his sincere thanks
carriers (e.g. crabs, Acetes, other shrimp) by to the International Foundation for Science and the
hypersaline water (over 130‰) transported from European Commission, DGXII for sponsoring his
salt farms or by chemicals such as sodium participartion in the workshop ‘Aquaculture
hypochloride, formalin or Synterex, etc (C.P. Research and Sustainable Development in Inland
Group 1995); and Coastal Regions in South-East Asia’.
• filter incoming water and treat with formalin or
sodium hypochloride;
• use a recycled or closed system; References
• select non-infected postlarvae for stocking from ADB/NACA (1997) Shrimp and carp aquaculture
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796 © 1997 Blackwell Science Ltd, Aquaculture Research, 28, 789–796